TERRITORIAL Army soldiers have been brushing up their mechanical skills by working on millions of pounds worth of vehicles.
TA soldiers from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) have taken part in an exercise called Southern Bluebell.
The exercise, involving a number of reservist soldiers from our area, was designed to give them hands-on training on a number of vehicles and pieces of equipment currently in use by the Army.
Corporal Sian Davies, 34, is a solicitor from Gosport.
She has served for eight years with 128 Field Company, based in Portsmouth.
Cpl Davies has recently returned from a six-month tour of Afghanistan, and worked as an instructor during the exercise to pass on her knowledge to others.
She said: ‘I enjoyed the whole experience and am really grateful to have had the opportunity to do it.
‘Not many people that do my job can say they have been to Afghanistan for six months. I have come back a little bit more confident.
‘Someone said I had come back a little bit more mature.
‘I definitely learned to be more patient with the people I worked with and the people I came across in Afghan and I know in my civilian job I need these skills.’
The training on offer for the TA soldiers included battle damage repair using protected patrol vehicles, such as those being used on operations in Afghanistan.
They include the Mastiff 2, which costs £1.5m, the Ridgeback, Coyote, Husky and Wolfhound vehicles.
The exercise took place on the Salisbury Plain Training Area in Wiltshire.
Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Harty is the course director and has served 35 years in the TA.
He said: ‘With something in the order of 10 per cent of those in theatre being from the TA, there is quite a large call on the reserves now, and that is going to become even more prevalent.
‘So it is important they learn on operational equipment as that is what they will be working on in Afghanistan or other future deployments.
‘With a blend of experienced TA and regular instructors, the benefits speak for themselves, as they share it with their colleagues.’
The TA is soon to be rebranded as the Army Reserve.
As reported in The News, the Army has been given the task of recruiting 30,000 reservists by 2018, from its current numbers of 19,000.